Farmers looking to upgrade their in-cab GPS displays this spring have a few new options to consider, as Trimble and Raven have introduced updated lines for the 2011 season. Here’s a look at their new systems, what farmrs can expect from them and how they compare.
TRIMBLE REPLACES THE EZ-GUIDE 500
Starting with Trimble, the popular EZ-Guide 500 gets a replacement in that company’s product line up for 2011. The CFX-750 display will take its place. In all, Trimble will offer farmers a choice of three systems: the EZ-Guide 250 system, the CFX-750 display and the FmX display.
But anyone still using a 500 need not worry about having it become obsolete anytime soon, according to Courtney Gaudet, a Trimble marketing rep. “We’re still going to support the 500,” she says.
Trimble’s three displays still cover a broad range of capabilities and price levels but each one offers some new features.
Starting at the lower end with a base price of US$1,495, the EZ-Guide 250 remains an entry-level system. The company describes it as being “well suited for broadacre crop applications that can be accomplished with sub-metre accuracy,” but it can be upgraded to provide six-to eight-inch accuracy.
It has a 4.3-inch colour screen that can show multiple guidance patterns and offers a night mode. The 250 now offers field mapping capability. Coverage map and report data can be manually transfered from the 250 to a desktop computer using a USB flash drive.
A step up is the new mid-range CFX-750, which has a built-in, dual-frequency receiver that is compatible with all accuracy levels. Retail prices for it start at US$2,995. It is compatible with the company’s assisted and automated steering systems, EZ-Steer and Autopilot.
Its eight-inch touch screen is larger than the previous EZ-Guide 500’s, and it’s capable of handling two live camera images along with flow and application controls. It can follow prescription map inputs for single-product, variable-rate control by adding the Field-IQ control system.
The 750 and higher-end FmX are also capable of receiving a signal from the Russian GLONASS network. Data from the 750 can be transferred manually via a USB port or wirelessly through Trimble’s Connected Farm system.
At the top of the line with a price tag of US$5,995 is the FmX Integrated Display. It offers all of those features and a few more. In fact, it should be capable of handling any precision ag requirement. It can handle two receivers, one on the tractor and another on the implement.
It can also perform drainage work using Trimble’s FieldLevel II system, and it provides real-time control for the GreenSeeker nitrogen sensor system for top dressing crops in mid season. Put the FmX in your combine and it maps harvest yield and moisture. It provides variable rate control for seeding, spraying and spreading when combined with a Rawson variable-rate drive.
In March, Trimble began selling its new DCM-300 modem, which will expand the capabilities of the FmX and CFX-750. The modem will be available in two models, one using GPS signals and the other designed to communicate via a wireless cellular signal. It will allow farmers to receive an RTK correction signal, transfer data wirelessly or track machinery movements.
Using the DCM-300, farmers can tie into Trimble’s new Farm Works Dispatch asset tracking software, which is an expansion of the previous Connected Farm Solution system. The dispatch manages vehicle movement and productivity.
Erik Arvesen, vice president and general manager for Trimble’s Agriculture Division, says, “The new modem enhances the data transfer and guidance capabilities of the Trimble FmX integrated display as well as the CFX-750 touch screen display, putting the Connected Farm within reach of anyone who has a reliable wireless data carrier signal.”
The DCM-300 can also be used to receive Trimble’s VRS RTK correction signal for sub-one inch accuracy.
RAVEN’S NEW LINE
With two new systems choices for 2011, Raven has three GPS displays on the market, the Cruizer II and Envizio Pro II and Viper Pro.
Raven’s Cruizer II model replaces the long-running original Cruizer model and is a simple guidance system offering sub-one-metre accuracy. But it can be joined with SmarTrax RTK, SmartSteer, SmartBoom, and SmartRow to enhance its features. “It meets the needs of someone who is not familiar with GPS guidance and wants to get started,” says Ryan Molitor, marketing supervisor for Raven. “But customers who are ready to build on it can add steering and section control. We wanted it to be scaleable.” However, it cannot handle VRT applications.
Cruizer II is easily transportable from machine to machine, using a standard cigarette lighter outlet for power. And it allows for viewing of saved and exported maps. Records can be transfered from the Cruizer using a thumb drive.
The operator gets a 5.7-inch, fullcolour, touch screen with a high resolution image and an integrated guidance light bar, which offers a choice between last pass, A-B and pivot guidance patterns. They can be displayed in a bird’s eye or downfield, 3D view.
If you happen to have a tractor without a cab, the Cruizer II is available in a water resistant version to prevent damage from being left out on a rainy day. The price tag for a Cruizer II starts at US$1,695.
To ensure a minimum of downtime should your system develop a problem, Raven offers Cruizer Care, an extended warranty plan that offers preferred service with a guaranteed next-day shipment of a replacement system, if necessary.
Starting at US$3,800, the midrange Envizio Pro II is what the company calls a “multi-function field computer.” It has a larger 6.5-inch touch display with a low-light mode for night operations. An integrated Differential GPS dual frequency receiver is standard with sub-metre accuracy using WAAS and EGNOS. It can be upgraded with a simple authorization code to sub-inch accuracy using RTK and GLONASS correction signals. Multiple antenna options are available.
It has prescription map capability with optional single-product VRT technology. Field and data maps can be made in real time then transferred and viewed on a variety of software systems. Data can be transfered to a thumb drive via one of two USB ports. But that can be improved by adding Raven’s Slingshot package, which allows for enhanced communications through wireless internet right from the tractor cab along with a telematics package.
“Slingshot brings high-speed wireless internet right into the cab,” says Molitor. “When an operator is done with a job in the field, it automatically sends the job file to a secure website. Someone in the office could send a prescription-based application map out to the field wirelessly.”
If you feel the need to surf the Internet right from your tractor cab, Raven’s top-end model, the Viper Pro, gives you that option when coupled with Slingshot. The Viper Pro has a 10.4-inch touch screen and uses a Windows XP operating system. It’s base price is about US$5,000.
The remote service allows an operator to communicate directly with a specialist at Raven, who can take control of the display to help solve a problem. “They (a service technician) can log into the computer and see what the operator sees,” says Molitor.
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